NORWICH — The Board of Education voted Wednesday to appoint Jamie Bender interim assistant superintendent of Norwich Public Schools after placing the current assistant superintendent, Tamara Gloster, on administrative leave.
Bender spent 30 years in the district and retired in 2022 after a six-year tenure as Director of Student Services and Special Education for the district.
Last week, the Board of Education voted to place Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow on indefinite paid administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into her “performance and conduct.” Susan Lessard, principal of Stanton Elementary School, is serving as interim superintendent.
Representatives from the Norwich Teachers League and the Connecticut Education Association, as well as parents, community members, elected officials and current and former staff of the Norwich Public Schools, came out to the meeting last week to call for the Board to take action.
Earlier this year, the board received complaints from two former administrators, one of whom alleged she received unwarranted poor evaluations from Gloster and was placed on a performance plan without cause, and another who alleged that Gloster and Stringfellow were responsible for “campaigns of fear and intimidation” against district employees.
Zakkyya Williams, communications director for the Norwich Public Schools, said the district would not comment on allegations against Gloster.
However, she noted that Bender was a “veteran educator” who had filled multiple roles in the district, including as a middle school teacher and special education teacher, as well as in administration.
“Acting Superintendent, Susan Lessard, is looking forward to working with Jamie to ensure the continuation of the daily operations of Norwich Public Schools,” Williams said in a statement.”
Bill Priest, President of the Norwich Teacher’s League, said in an email that teachers were grateful that the Board of Education was “continuing to take actions that will improve the climate in Norwich’s education community.” He said teachers were looking forward to working with the interim administrators.
“By taking steps to address the need for change in the superintendent’s office, the board of education has restored trust and confidence in our educators to speak openly so that the investigation can continue unfettered,” Priest said.
This story has been updated to include comments by Williams and corrected to reflect that Bender retired in 2022